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The Columbia Guide to Religion in American History$
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Paul Harvey and Edward Blum

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231140201

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231140201.001.0001

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(p.105) 4. Theology
The Columbia Guide to Religion in American History

Mark Noll

Columbia University Press

This chapter surveys the history of American theology. The activity of religious believers has been constantly transformative within American culture and, since the late nineteenth century, for the world. Yet the impact of what Americans have thought about God has been less obvious and less extensive. Nonetheless, the history of American theology shows how both inherited traditions and popular innovations have interacted with pressing circumstances to produce theological reflection of surprising breadth and unexpected depth. This chapter discusses the characteristics of American religious experience during the colonial period; theology in the new United States during the period 1776–1865; shifts in the theological landscape between 1865 and 1945; and changes in American theology in the recent past. It also provides examples of the folk origins of high theology and the theological base of popular religious movements in America.

Keywords:   American history, American theology, God, religious experience, colonial period, United States, high theology, religious movements

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